Be careful in summer: protect batteries and electronic devices from heat

Smartphone at the pool (Photo: Unsplash/Bruno Gomiero).
Smartphone at the pool (Photo: Unsplash/Bruno Gomiero).

Be careful in summer: protect batteries and electronic devices from heat

Smartphone at the pool (Photo: Unsplash/Bruno Gomiero).
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The summer heat poses health risks not only for humans and animals, but also for our everyday electronic companions. Cell phones, tablets and laptops should not be exposed to excessive direct sunlight.

The Waste Electrical Equipment Coordination Office (EAK) emphasizes this in view of the rising temperatures. In addition, it is strongly recommended that batteries of e-bikes, e-scooters and other electrical devices never be charged unattended and that they are disposed of correctly.

Electronic devices have become indispensable companions in our everyday lives. Whether for communication, work or entertainment - the use of cell phones, tablets and laptops is omnipresent. But especially in very hot weather, the built-in lithium batteries can heat up, which can affect their longevity and cause potentially dangerous situations. The batteries used in these devices are particularly powerful due to their high energy density and low self-discharge, but they are also susceptible to overheating and damage.

This is particularly problematic when temperatures rise, as is common in the summer months. Lithium is very reactive and can become easily flammable at high temperatures. This affects not only cell phones and tablets, but also other electrical devices such as e-bikes and e-scooters. In 2023 alone, around 220.000 e-bikes were sold in Austria, which are also powered by lithium batteries.

Proper charging and disposal of batteries

Improper handling of batteries can lead to serious safety risks. The EAK warns against charging batteries unattended and recommends that they should always be charged on a non-flammable surface. It also points out that damaged batteries - recognizable by melting points, deformation or leaking liquid - should be replaced immediately as they may be prone to spontaneous combustion.

When charging, only use the power adapter provided to avoid overcharging. In addition, completely discharging a battery shortens its lifespan. Many devices have software that prevents the battery from being fully charged and discharged in order to extend its lifespan.

Protective measures in everyday life

To ensure the lifespan and safety of batteries, some precautions should be observed:

  • Avoid heat: Electronic devices should not be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. In a car, for example, temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius can occur if devices are placed directly behind the windshield.
  • Avoid moisture: Even though many devices are now waterproof, they should not be exposed to moisture unnecessarily as this can lead to corrosion and safety risks.
  • Avoid damage: Falls and impacts can cause invisible damage inside the batteries, which can lead to short circuits the next time you charge them.
  • Do not short-circuit contacts: When removing the battery, care should be taken to ensure that the contacts do not come into contact with metal objects.

Proper disposal of lithium batteries is not only important for safety reasons, but also for environmental reasons. Lithium batteries should never be thrown in household waste, but should be taken to special collection points. In Austria, there are around 2.000 municipal collection points where old batteries and broken batteries can be taken. This environmentally friendly recycling saves raw materials and supports the sustainable circular economy. There are also "Her mit Leer" collection boxes in grocery stores, where small, undamaged device batteries can be disposed of free of charge.

The summer heat presents particular challenges for the use and handling of batteries and electronic devices. Observing simple precautions can not only extend the life of the devices, but also avoid potentially dangerous situations. The Waste Electrical Equipment Coordination Office (EAK) emphasizes the importance of the correct handling and disposal of batteries in order to protect both safety and the environment.

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